Friday, July 3, 2015

Study: Health law boosts hospital psych care for young adults

0 comments
Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a new study by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.
Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a new study by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities. iStockphoto

Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a new study by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.

That looks like good news: Better access to care for a population with higher-than-average levels of mental illness that too often endangers them and people nearby.

But it might not be the best result, said Kosali Simon, an economist at Indiana University and one of the authors. Greater hospital use by the newly insured might be caused by inadequate outpatient resources to treat mental-health patients earlier and less expensively, she said.

The health law let people under age 26 stay on their parents’ group insurance plans starting in late 2010. Other research shows the provision raised coverage for young adults. The paper by Yaa Akosa Antwi, Asako S. Moriya and Simon, based on a big national sample from community hospitals, found it also increased their hospital use.

More coverage
  • Have a question about the health care law? Ask our expert
  • Total inpatient visits for those aged 19 to 25 increased 3.5 percent compared with people aged 27 to 29, who couldn’t be on their parents’ plans. Mental health admissions increased much more — by 9 percent.

    That’s a little puzzling. When Massachusetts broadened medical coverage with its 2006 state-based health reform law there were no big increases in mental-health hospitalizations for young adults there.

    But psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental-health providers are more available in Massachusetts than elsewhere, Simon said. Perhaps community caregivers largely met the needs of newly insured Bay Staters, saving them from crisis visits to the emergency room.

    In the national study, a large portion of psychiatric admissions came through the emergency department.

    Neither the Massachusetts study nor the national study looked at the volume of outpatient mental-health care. But even if they had, they wouldn’t have produced a final answer on the effectiveness of expanded coverage.

    That will take more research. Increasing insurance and treatments aren’t necessarily the same as helping patients.

    “We eventually judge all these [insurance] expansions based on the final outcomes that we care about,” said Simon. “How did this affect the well-being of young adults? Is there a measurable improvement of health status? Does it appear that there is better mental health as a result of this increase?”

    --

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    Kaiser Health News
    0 comments
    We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
    Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

    Comment policy:

    Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

    Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

    Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

    Read 0 comments
     
    comments powered by Disqus
    Latest Health Videos
    Also on Philly.com:
    letter icon Newsletter